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Ballad of the Burning Star (Edinburgh Fringe)

The award-winning Theatre Ad Infinitum present a cabaret-infused tale about the Israel/Palestine conflict

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The Israel-Palestine situation is now, sadly, such a horrible stalwart of our existence that we're running out of ways, or desire, to look at it afresh. So it was a surprise to see the auditorium packed full for Theatre Ad Infinitum's look at the situation. Rightly so, however, because the company have done so in a bold, brash and brand new way.

Featuring drag queen Star and her ensemble of dancing girls the show tells the tale of a young boy called Israel who, taking steps to avenge his brother's death, makes the jump from victim to villain. The story stretches back ever further, with his grandmother's memory of losing her sister during the holocaust, discussion of occupied lands and more, and it's clear that this sorry individual's tale is just a microcosm of the confusion, horror, sadness and anger in their world.

The ensemble switch back and forth between the dancing girl personas and the story's characters effortlessly, with Star managing the scenes so that emotions can be defused, moments can be ended and the show never becomes heavy handed or soapboxy. Her relationship with the girls switches between caring and nasty, her handing of them reeking of a military, dictatorial style.

With live music (from Camp David) and a beautifully crafted ending there's much to commend this production. Perhaps at times it can get a little too busy, too manic and the show could do with being a little shorter.

And, though a great performer throughout the rest of the piece, Nir Paldi's Star could do with a little more practice as a compere, just to help bring the audience in at the very start.

- Lucy Danser

Ballad of the Burning Star continues at Pleasance Dome until 26 August